AUGUSTA — The moon itself was not out Friday evening, as small crowds of people walked up and down Water Street, popping into various store fronts and empty spaces where artists were displaying their work.

But a large chalk drawing of the moon did hang at the front of one those spaces, the storefront once occupied by Stacy’s Hallmark card shop.

Like that dusty lunar landscape, which was made by artists Peter Precourt and Luc Demers, the crowds milling about the former card shop were ephemeral. Just as the chalky rendering of the moon wouldn’t last forever, few people stop in at that space anymore.

Still, bringing people downtown, if only for one night, was the purpose of the Friday night event, which was organized by the Augusta Downtown Alliance, the University of Maine at Augusta and the Maine State Credit Union.

More than 20 artists, a dozen of them selected by a jury, showed their work in downtown spaces. Some of those spaces were businesses and restaurants. Others properties were unused, such as the former card shop, or transitioning to another purpose, such as the spot where a restaurant called by Otto’s on the River is expected to open in June.

Given the untapped character of those old venues, organizers described the event as a “raw space” art walk.


In the first hour of the event, which continued until 8 p.m., a couple of dozen people could be seen visiting the various locations.

Given the gray and drizzly weather Friday evening, Michael Hall, director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, was pleased with the turnout for the first art walk of its kind.

The Augusta Downtown Alliance strives to promote redevelopment in the traditional heart of the city, which has seen its fair share of empty storefronts in recent years. By holding events such as the art walk, Hall said, the group hopes to attract some culture and vibrancy to the downtown, while also marketing those spaces that are available.

“We want to showcase what these open spaces that are available look like with people in them, so people can look at them in a new way,” Hall said. “It’s a way for people to come down here in a way they wouldn’t have before, and also to access buildings that aren’t always open.”

The four “raw” spaces that hosted artists Friday evening were the former card shop, a former jewelry store, the Colonial Theatre and the corner space that will soon become Otto’s.

Tobias Parkhurst owns the former card shop and is renovating it with the goal of attracting commercial clients. He also chairs the board of the Augusta Downtown Alliance.


Like Hall, Parkhurst was pleased with the turnout Friday, remarking that “it’s the first time I’ve ever had a hard time finding parking in downtown Augusta.”

Along with the artists who displayed their pieces during the event, UMA architecture students who have been looking at solutions to homelessness assembled a full-sized model of a two-person shelter that one of them, Jess Robichaud, had designed.

They displayed the model, which resembled a tiny home, in Market Square Park. With rain falling off and on Friday, it was a good test run for Robichaud, who said she plans to spend next winter testing the ability of her design to handle the elements.

The most breathtaking of the raw spaces may have been the 103-year-old Colonial Theatre, which a group of citizens is trying to renovate, expand and restore to its former splendor.

Lines of people waiting to enter the theater used to stretch out Water Street and around the corner, according to Richard Parkhurst, father of Tobias. Richard Parkhurst now owns the building where Otto’s on the River will open soon. He also chairs the capital campaign for the Colonial Theatre’s restoration, an estimated $8 million project.

“The theater needs to be involved in anything that goes on downtown,” he said. “You need to be a culturally based community.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

Twitter: @ceichacker

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